What different attitudes toward the ritual are presented by the various characters in "The Lottery"?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the short story, "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, several different attitudes towards the ritual appear with different characters in the story.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Adams express doubt about the ritual, remarking that other villages have either given up the ritual or are thinking of giving it up.  Mrs. Delacroix speaks pleasantly to Tessie Hutchinson and tells her to "Be a good sport, Tessie";  however, she is one of the most enthusiastic people to stone Tessie illustrating the dichotomy of pleasant conversation and the evil of killing.  The younger children play in the square indifferent to the adults and their worries.  Janey Dunbar is reluctant to stone Tessie, saying that she will catch up later leaving the reader to hope that the lottery will lose favor in the future.  Mr. Hutchinson, Tessie's husband, forces the slip of paper with the black mark on it to be seen by the crowd, showing his acceptance of tradition and his control over Tessie.  Old Man Warner represents the old order and is enthusiastic in his support of the ritual stoning.  Tessie, when saying that it isn't fair, is one of the few voices against the ritual of stoning a person to death each year. 


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